Virginia teen dies after hole and dune collapse on Frisco beach

By on May 6, 2023

(Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

A 17-year-old male from Chesapeake, Virginia died on Saturday, May 6 as a result of being trapped under several feet of sand at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) in Frisco.

At approximately 2 p.m., Seashore law enforcement rangers responded to a 911 call regarding a teenager trapped in a hole, approximately 0.10 mile east of off-road vehicle ramp 49 in Frisco. The hole was dug in a back-dune area behind the primary dune and not visible from the beachfront.

Prior to arriving on scene, family and friends went looking for the teenager and found him buried under several feet of sand, apparently caused by portions of the adjacent dune collapsing into the hole. Rangers worked with family members to extract the teen while simultaneously performing CPR.

Dare County Emergency Medical Services personnel and Hatteras Island Ocean Rescue staff assisted with extracting the teenager from the hole and administering CPR. Unfortunately, resuscitation efforts were not successful. The incident is under investigation.

“Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers our condolences to his family and friends,” said David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “We urge visitors not to dig deep holes on the beach due to the danger they present to beachgoers and emergency response staff.”



  • Glenn

    How tragic & sad for this family. Thoughts & prayers to all…may this young man RIP. The dangers of these holes collapsing have been addressed by both The OBX Voice and county/city officials repeatedly these past several years. Similar tragedies have been reported up and down the East Coast in recent years. Our hearts go out to all those directly impacted by this tragic loss.

    Saturday, May 6 @ 8:12 pm
  • Surf123

    While is is a tremendous tragedy one must ask where was the adult supervision? You cannot dig a hole big enough to bury yourself in a few minutes and you need a real shovel to do it. I’d venture to say it would take 30 minutes to an hour to dig one deep enough for you to be buried several feet deep when it collapses. I have dug plenty of holes in sand over my lifetime, but never more than 2 to 3 feet deep because I could not keep up with the amount of sand falling back in. There will be calls for laws and regulations but they will not stop anyone. Can you imagine going to court to say you were caught digging a hole in the sand? The lesson learned is to supervise your children and their activities so you do not have to live with regrets.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 8:26 am
  • Joan Setty

    My Husband and I came across a huge hole in the Kill Devil Hills area. It was almost six feet deep and maybe eight feet across. The shovel was still at the bottom. We notified Emergency Services and someone came to fill it. It was frightening to think what could have happened. I would like to see more signs at the beach access points to warn visitors of the dangers of leaving holes. Not a perfect answer , but no one should die from a dumb mistake.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 10:48 am
  • JW

    @Surf123 This is a horrible tragedy and something the community has been educating on heavily. But please don’t blame the parents. I can only imagine their devastation as it it, but then to assume that this is their fault. Not okay. This was a 17 year old – the same age that many go to college and live independently. This is not a time to pass blame. My heart goes out to this family during this time.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 11:02 am
  • Travis

    Stand by for another round of demands to pass ordinances against digging holes at the beach. Meanwhile, from many of the same people, another round of “thoughts and prayers” for the victims of the latest mass shooting. Guns don’t kill people, you say? Well, neither do holes based on that same logic. The gun doesn’t shoot by itself and the hole doesn’t dig itself.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 1:48 pm
  • Tragic loss

    This is very unfortunate and sad to hear. I hate that this happened to this family and individual.

    “The community has been educated. People have been educated”…

    It’s a new batch of uneducated folks every week! The people who come next week will never know someone died digging a hole. Vacationers don’t come to the local news sites to read up on whats happening. The only way they’ll hear about it is if there is one of those police road light signs placed at the bridge saying “Deaths to drowning and sand holes 2023 is #”

    They do this on interstates to remind people to slow down.

    When you book your rental, the agency could provide a list of safety warnings regarding rip tides, wild horses, and digging holes. Maybe the NPS could whip something up and forward it to the rental agencies.

    Monday, May 8 @ 8:36 am
  • surf123

    @Tragic loss…do we put up signs for every loss of life? I doubt it because no one wants to see the nanny state reminding them don’t do this and don’t do that. Everything is dangerous at some level with the ocean being the greatest risk in this county by a massive amount followed by driving/riding in a car and drug overdoses. Were there a sign no one would believe it or just assume it cannot happen to me like every other time someone does something and dies. @Travis I was on the fence with guns, but have since moved over to your side. It’s time to get the gun stuff under control. The shootouts are at least weekly and probably more but it’s so regular that I’m numb to it.

    Monday, May 8 @ 12:06 pm
  • Drajon

    Good points, Tragic Loss

    I copied this post from the Outer Banks connection forum.

    “I have spent the whole day searching on Google for written information and videos on this. Dare County has a good video on the topic. The problem I suppose is getting new arrivals to view it,

    They also have a few other videos on safety, including ocean

    safety and rip currents , traffic and pedestrians, and others.

    Perhaps they could put all these videos into one and new arrivals could be given a short card on the top of their welcome packet strongly recommending that they view it”

    Monday, May 8 @ 1:14 pm
  • Vagabond

    Theres a giant hole with a fort built around it in front of the Golden Strand in KDH today. Bunch of teenage boys and I can 99.9% guarantee you they won’t fill it in before they leave.

    I’ve never seen it as obnoxious down here as it is this trip, especially for still being the off-season. I’m not sure if we’ll come back again.

    Monday, May 8 @ 6:46 pm
  • Nosey OBXer

    This is a terrible tragedy.
    Dare and Currituck need a campaign to educate and spread the word to the public visiting the obx about this danger. Every beach house rental has info about dangerous rip currents posted on the fridges, sand hole warning should be posted too, and in coffee houses, grocery store cork boards , restaurants, etc.
    condolences to the family over the loss of their precious teen.

    Tuesday, May 9 @ 6:00 pm
  • Just a mom

    I am heartbroken for this young man. I wish he could have changed his mind whether to get in or near this whole or to dig it.
    It’s a tragedy. We all make decisions every day and there aren’t always signs or information pamphlets to guide us. I tell me kids often to stay off large piles of sand put in place by man because like snow it can fall fast. I can tell you like many things told you kids by parents, it goes in one ear and out the other. Information is always good but applying it is optional.
    There is no one to blame. I am so sorry for the boys loss of his life. I really wish it could be different.
    May God fill his family with love and strength.

    Wednesday, May 10 @ 8:18 am